New daytime quiz beginning apparently March 4th. TV’s Paul Brassey suggests the inspiration for it comes from not being able to convert early poker tournament leads into actual victories which is very interesting and you can see in the format, although apparently he hasn’t been involved with it for a long time.
- This was filmed in TVC4, TV geeks. Incedentally TVC6 is currently set up for Millionaire? – it had been closed but they’ve reopened it up for that and the gallery is currently sitting in large OB vans outside the studio. Ray Turner was on warm-up duty, about 100 people in the audience I reckon.
- Set is futuristic without being overly dark – looks like lots of neon lighted steps in the background in between large vertical dot matrix style screens. Studio is wide – large walkway in foreground, Jake Humphrey and Control player stand on the left, a large screen on the right and “the pack” behind a large light up desk on a higher level in the background.
- So the game. Eight people begin, usually one is selected randomly before the show (but see later) to be the Control player, the other contestants are The Pack. One person can walk away with up to £12,000.
- The object is for the Control to bank as much money as possible AND stay ahead of The Pack through a game of six categories, shown at the start of the game. Control also gets one Double Answer (i.e. they can choose two answers instead of one) to be deployed after any question. If the Control player changes at any point, they too will get a Double Answer to use once.
- Control picks a category. They are shown a question with four possible answers worth £2,000. The Pack also all answer in secret.
- Control must decide to answer the question or pass it.
- To remain in the game, Control MUST get a question right before The Pack does or he is eliminated. However if he gets a question wrong he’s also imediately eliminated.
- If he passes, it’s revealed who in The Pack got it right via a 12 second (I counted) dancing light tension thing. Whoever got it right can go to “The Safe Area” – a bench back left of set, and cannot be eliminated this round. Another (easier, importantly) question is then played but the value is halved (i.e. £1k, £500, £250 etc.). This keeps going until he decides to answer a question or the Pack beats him.
- If Control gets a question right, the value is added to the bank. Control also gets to eliminate a member of the Pack who hadn’t made it to safety. It’s in The Pack’s best interests to answer correctly, but there is a risk if Control Beats the Pack you look like too much of a threat and get eliminated anyway.
- Either way the game continues either with the current Control (the safe members of The Pack is bought back into the fold) or if he was eliminated (important note: the money they won is lost from the game), the best performing Pack member gets to become the new Control. Astute readers will notice that that means after every category The Pack gets smaller which makes the decisions to play or pass more interesting as the game progresses. This also has baring on your category selection – it’s usually wiser to get rid of your weak categories earlier as the more people in The Pack, the less likely they will strike you out.
- After six categories we are down to Control and one remaining Pack member for the final, playing for the money built up in Control’s bank (which might be up to £12k, or if Control gets in late in the game, not much at all. And if Control gets knocked out on the very last question, they’re playing for the right to come on again in a later episode beginning as Control).
- Control must stay in control for 75 seconds of quickfire questions. These are mainly pretty easy questions and they muct be answered in three seconds. If they get it wrong or take too long, the last of The Pack can answer. If they can push the Chaser back three times then they win all the money instead of Control, otherwise Control wins.
And that’s that. It does some quite neat things – namely the race to Beat the Pack but there are issues. The initial questions in each category is very hard to the point of being boring pub quiz machine trivia in a lot of places and these are the questions you are going to see most. The main game features about 10 questions in the space of 40 minutes, I think it’s going to have a pacing issue (each episode took 2-2.5hrs, but although the game was fairly enjoyable (it is actually the sort of thing you could rig up with pen and paper) they felt like loooong sessions). This afternoon, without spoiling too much, in the two episodes we were playing for the high tension final prizes of £250 and the chance to return the next episode. The central idea is quite neat, but clearing the bank after every change of Control just feels immensely cheap – imagine it happening near the end on Breakaway, then multiply it by quite a lot because that sort of thing is inbuilt as a feature of the game.
Jake Humphrey is a very assured host – and also good fun and pleasant off camera. If there was one criticism he does tend to push the devil’s advocate line a bit too much, asking and reasking if that’s what they want to do, yet persuading the contestant to change their mind precisely zero times.
This felt like a long day, they started recording at 1:30 and finished the second episode at about 7:30, with a 45 minute break in the middle (we were sent back to the foyer, but the cafe wasn’t open so cheers then). In fairness it might have been a bit quicker had one of the contestants in the second recording not fainted (apparently in the heat of the studio lights) which was of concern. Happily it looks as though he was OK and will return in a future recording, as we were only one question into the show it was decided to start again with a stand-by (who were apparently just two minutes away from getting home).
Anyway I sort of like it, I reckon it’s slightly below Breakaway series one in quality, fans of gamey games will enjoy it, fans of fun questions probably won’t quite. It’ll be interesting to see how it edits and is received.